We normally get windswept black dissonance or strange pulsing ambient blackness via French label Debemur Morti but Tamerlan take us down a completely different acoustic / neo-folk route. This project is essentially the work of multi-instrumentalist Timur Iskandarov a Russian who sounds like he has been on quite a journey before picking up musical roots learning classical guitar and lute. Taking the name Tamerlan from an Uzbek war-leader and sorcerer he has recorded a couple of EP’s, albums and splits since 2006 but is a completely new name to me. Attention was drawn to this though due to some of the guests he has got to join on this recording, essentially members of Sol Invictus (Tony Wakeford & Lesley Malone) Arcana (Cecilia Bjargo & Mattias Borgh) and others.
As you would imagine this is an album that takes the listener on a bit of a journey and provides a mellow and immersive experience. Starting off with ‘Eternal’ we strum in and immediately find ourselves listening to Wakeford’s unmistakable calm tones. It’s a case of drifting away with things as the lush guitar work paints melody and some calm background backing percussion strikes likes waves hitting rocks. Lovers of Dornenreich , Sol Invictus, Death In June etc will immediately breathe in and get a glow on to this as the song picks up the pace and comes to a short compact conclusion. Darker melody seeps in and intrigue and mysticism build as the enchanting call of Cecelia Bjargo leads off down twisting and turning paths. Musically it is all quite minimalistic but her voice and the lone classical guitar fill all aural gaps so nothing more is needed. There is a feel that the album is made up of fragmented pieces, there is no real linear flow or anything particularly linking the songs together but it works and you are best left to go with it and see where you are led. This could be to a simple instrumental piece that sounds like a minstrel from bygone times entertaining the folks of a peaceful hamlet as is ‘Dance Of The Twilight Stars’ (a Hoyland cover apparently) or simple clock ticking to gentle acoustic guitar and low growling vocals ‘My Estranged Sanctuary.’
There’s a very strong Dead Can Dance feel at times especially on ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ with lilting vocals from Olja Frolo wafting around harmonious guitar work and the spoken incantations of Mattias Borgh. It is like being dropped into a temple in the middle of a secretive ritual. Middle Eastern Arabic chants flow headily over Children Of A Lesser God (Qliphotic Hunger) and the call of them is fantastically compelling. I guess despite the fact that it is an album that is gentle on the whole without too much going on at once there is plenty of substance about it and each track has a distinct personality enforced by the vocal performances. I enjoyed this a fair bit but you certainly get more out of it by really concentrating on it rather than letting it just drift away in the background, which is kind of all too easy to do.
(7/10 Pete Woods)